Experiments were carried out with water-treated isolated rat liver mitochondria (mitochondria ghosts) previously studied by Caplan and Greenawalt (Caplan, A.I., and J.W. Greenawalt. 1966. J. Cell Biol. 31:455-472) and Vasington and Greenawalt (Vasington, F., and J. Greenawalt. 1968. J. Cell Biol. 39:661-675). The ghosts have permeability properties and osmotic behavior comparable to those of isolated mitochondria. Although they have lost most of their internal contents, they must have resealed. Four properties were found which have not been previously described in systems derived from biological membranes: (a) an osmotic behavior in the virtual absence of internal components. (b) a self-arranging property in the formation of invaginations corresponding in morphology to the cristae. The results suggest that the assembly of the molecular components of the inner membrane is sufficient to specify the morphology. Hence the surface area to volume ratio of the vesicles may specify the presence or absence of cristae-like folds. (c) an increase in the permeability of the membranes to sucrose in the presence of iso-osmotic concentrations of sucrose. (d) an independence of the light transmitted by suspensions of the vesicles from the refractive index of the external medium. This observations run counter to the general previous experience with either mitochondria or liposomes.

This content is only available as a PDF.